Monday, September 8, 2008

Fancy, on the cheap: The Bar Room at The Modern

Ahh Restaurant Week. I used to get excited about this promotion, until my frustrations with being unable to get reservations and not knowing which would give me the best experience gradually made my interest dwindle. These days, the only time I've gone is when someone else has done the research and made the arrangements already.

Luckily, such was the case with the Bar Room at The Modern. SYB, with his handy AmEx card, got the jump on bookings and snared two dinner seats in the second week of this summer's promotion. I happened to be free, so off we went to explore this "casual" dining room attached to the Museum of Modern Art.
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We had a pretty large choice of options—I believe the Restaurant Week menu was nearly the same as the regular menu—and we pretty much shared everything we ordered. So for the first course, there was a tarte flambée, an "alsatian thin crust tart with crème fraiche, onion, and applewood smoked bacon." This kind of thing is right up my alley: savory stuff on dough? Yes please. Though the crust was extremely thin, nearly invisible once held level, it still supported its toppings nicely. And I enjoyed the sizeable portion of arctic char tartare, with arrived in a thin pool of basil-infused oil and with cool, limp threads of daikon laid across its top.
Then it was on to our second courses. See that creamy white layer under that crisp, brown cap? That's FAT. Yeah, a straight up, one-inch-thick rectangle of fat sat on top of my beer-braised pork belly entree, which came accompanied by sauerkraut and ginger jus. I know this is sacrilege but I had to push the fat to the side, concentrating instead on the meat, which was was extraordinarily tender and perfectly complemented by the sauerkraut. Not to worry though—SYB took care of the rest.
SYB's duck confit with "shishito pepper hash, passion fruit, and natural jus" was also delicious. The duck was juicy, tender, and full of rich flavor; it was nothing like the dried-out confit I've had at other places.
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The two desserts we picked were the Modern cheesecake with almond crumble, cherry, and fromage blanc sorbets, and the buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry soup and arlette tuile. I had agreed to the panna cotta since they were out of the stone fruit crumble with pistachio ice cream, but in the end I think I might have preferred the cobbler. The panna cotta was fine, as was the strawberry soup, but it wasn't anything special. And there was a chunk of some kind of sour, herbal jelly that lent an odd note to the dish. I much preferred the cheesecake, which was a deconstructed version of the pastry, each element heaped into the bowl individually.

Overall, eating at the Bar Room was a pretty good Restaurant Week experience: the servers were friendly and gracious; the choice, quality, and portion sizes of the food were no different from their usual offerings; and most importantly, the food was good. These are definitely the elements that make a promotion like this a good deal. I guess it's still worthwhile for me to check out Restaurant Week after all….

1 comment:

  1. I left some notes on their comment card after the meal and they sent me a card a couple of weeks later with specific responses to my comments. Now that's good service.